Category Archives: Glossed Over

Rethink the Pink Drink [Marie Claire, October 2013]

Greetings, earthlings! I’m back to work after baby leave and it does feel a little like returning from outer space. If in outer space you are never allowed to sleep and spend most of your days feeling overjoyed and terrified and wildly in love all at the same time. (I didn’t see it — because I have a newborn and have to wait for movies to come to Netflix — but that was roughly the experience of Sandra Bullock in Gravity, no?)

Anyway. I’m happy to be here and especially happy to tell you about several cool projects that hit newsstands while I was away. First up: “Rethink the Pink Drink” (PDF or online), which ran in the October issue of Marie Claire.

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Exercise: Learning To Love It [Elle, June 2013]

Elle Magazine Virginia Sole-Smith June 2013

The June 2013 issue of Elle is “The Body Issue,” and I contributed this essay on the science of exercise motivation and my personal quest to stop thinking of my workouts as yet another chore (to be avoided at all costs) and start being one of those people who actually craves physical activity and gets grouchy when they can’t do it.

Elle "Exercise Learn To Love It," June 2013 by Virginia Sole-Smith

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Sexism and Body Shaming, Oscars Edition

I fully admit to falling asleep after Russell Crowe ruined the Les Mis group singalong, but now that I’ve caught up on the remaining 19 hours of the Oscars last night, there are a few things I think we need to talk about.

1. Enough with the Black Swanning already.

Forget your feelings about her nipple-y dress and overly earnest acceptance speech, Anne Hathaway killed it f*cking dead as Fantine and I’m glad she won. At the same time, I am not excited about two big wins, two years in a row, for already-tiny actresses winnowing down to skeleton size for these roles. I know there’s a case to be made for method acting and I guess, yes, an 18th century French prostitute dying of consumption would be pretty starved-looking. (Though the chicks who played her on Broadway never seem to need to go there.) See also an insane ballerina. But the media frenzy around these weight-loss-for-art stories only reinforces our skewed ideas about what women need to look like to be successful. We do not get this lathered up when male actors change their body shape for a part, period. It also gets in the way of appreciating the fine acting these women are actually doing because instead of talking about the interesting choices they made with their brains, we’re thinking, as usual, that women are their bodies and not much more.

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[Reading List] The Drama Years

One of the best parts of my job is that I get sent a lot of amazing books. I also find out about a lot of amazing books that I don’t get sent and just buy myself. Which I’m happy to do because I’m all about supporting my writer peeps, but sometimes leads D. to have thoughts about the state of our Amazon account. Anyway, the point is there are a lot of cool books out there that I read and think “must tell the blog about this!” but then don’t get organized to write the post. I think this is because when I like a book, it’s actually a lot harder to write about it than when I disagree wildly and want to get my argument out there. But that’s sort of unfair to the books I like, right?

Long story short: Enter a new sporadic-but-regular feature called Reading List where I’m going to tell you about books I am reading and really loving. Ideally in some sort of coherent, pithy manner.

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The Pink Pyramid: Paying to Play with Mary Kay [Harper's, August 2012]

Harper's "The Pink Pyramid Scheme" by Virginia Sole-Smith (August 2012) Cover Shot

My new cover story, “The Pink Pyramid Scheme” is out in the August issue of Harper’s Magazine.

This is a big one.

I’ve tracked this story for the past three years, since enrolling in beauty school and discovering that most of my Beauty U classmates moonlighted as salespeople for Mary Kay, Avon or another direct sales cosmetics brand. (An early report of my first Mary Kay encounter appeared on the blog back here.) “The Pink Pyramid Scheme” shares their story, along with the experiences of other Mary Kay ladies who have wound up divorced and in debt — some truly brave women who shared their stories with me even though leaving Mary Kay is, for many, like leaving a bad marriage and a religion combined. Think public ridicule, stigma, guilt, and serious emotional and financial fall-out.

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Filed under Beauty Labor, Career Opportunities, Glossed Over, Government Watch, Happenings, Makeup, Mary Kay

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Why I Heart GIRLS & Lena Dunham’s Body

Lena Dunham GIRLS HBO

I’m a little late to this game since the first season of HBO’s GIRLS ended Sunday night. But if, like me, you don’t schedule your life around appointment television, then you’re probably very appreciative of the fact that I waited a respectful three days before blogging about this so as to avoid spoilers. You’re welcome.

At any rate: It is high time that I expressed my fervent appreciation and admiration for Lena Dunham and the amazingness she has created with this here show. The poor girl experienced all manner of backlash when it first premiered — how could she not? She’s approximately twelve and she’s been put in charge of a prime time comedy at HBO. She’s writing, directing and starring in a show about being a New York-based twenty-something all the while actually being a New York-based twenty-something. Most of whom are generally lacking in the perspective you would need to do such a thing. So everybody had to get up in arms about whether she was accurately capturing the experience of being poor and pretentious during your twenties. Are their jobs appropriate? Do they dress too fashion-y? Why aren’t there more black characters? Who eats cupcakes in the bathtub? Is Bushwick just too… Bushwick-y? And so on.

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Concerns From a Fitness Professional

Last month, in Why Fit is the New Thin, I explored how the “fitspiration” phenomenon can be uncomfortably reminiscent of the “thinspiration” phenomenon. They aren’t entirely identical; thinspiration is pretty much always about collecting pictures that glorify an unhealthy and unattainable standard of beauty (skinny). Fitspiration can be about motivating and empowering yourself to try rock climbing, do a handstand, run a marathon or reach some other kick-ass physical fitness goal. But it can also be about glorifying an unhealthy and unattainable standard of beauty… and because it all gets dressed up as “fitness,” the unhealthy parts can be a lot harder to pick out. I offered some guidelines that help me separate the “this makes me want to run outside and be sweaty and awesome!” stuff from the “this makes me feel like dog poo if  I can only go to the gym for 35 minutes instead of 45 minutes today.”

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Human Bodies: Living Fabulous, Not One Size Fits All

Yes, chickens, today I am showing you a video of Shaquille O’Neal’s appearance on The Daily Show from Monday night. You don’t have to watch the whole thing. It’s funny because John Stewart interviewing weird celebrities is always better than John Stewart asking very thoughtful questions of smart celebrities (see: anyone remotely affiliated with any government or Bono). And because Shaq describes himself as “living fabulous” and is getting a PhD. Well, alrighty then!

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Israel Bans Underweight Models — So Who’s Hiring Them? [Slate / XXfactor]

Slate XXfactor Israel Bans Underweight Models by Virginia Sole-Smith

I’m back on Slate’s XXfactor blog, with a piece about what these bans on underweight models might do to the models themselves. Of course the hope is: Allow them to keep working, now at a healthy weight. But that assumes the fashion industry will all fall neatly in line and start championing the health of their young workforce — which is pretty much the opposite of what’s happened so far anytime anyone has attempted industry reform thus far. (See Marc Jacobs refusing to check for underage models last month for the case in point.)

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Filed under Beauty Labor, Beauty Standards, Fashion, Glossed Over, Government Watch, Modeling, Press

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Why Fit is the New Thin (And What We Can Do About It)

Trigger warning: In order to write today’s post, I have to use and link to images that are potentially triggering for folks with ED/in recovery/generally struggling with negative body image thought patterns right now. I’m going to be making it crystal clear why I do not endorse these images or want you to apply any of them to yourself — but please tread carefully and skip today’s post if you think this might be sensitive material for you. xo

 

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